With joint credit or authorized-user designations, it's possible for a woman to have a credit history and a great credit score without ever having credit in her own name.
However, it's not a great idea. After a divorce, joint accounts may be closed. If a spouse dies, card issuers frequently cancel or curtail the survivor's joint accounts based on the new circumstances, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com. "The bank still wants your business, but they may not want it under the same conditions that you were enjoying before," says Ulzheimer.
The result: At an already stressful time, a woman who depends on joint credit may have little or none. A divorce or spouse's death is no time to discover that -- along with everything else -- you also have to reestablish credit, he says.
Having individual accounts gives you "more control over your credit history and score," says Jill Gianola, CFP and author of "The Young Couple's Guide to Growing Rich Together."